Beginning next year, hundreds of thousands of Virginians who can’t afford health insurance will have a new option: Medicaid. That’s because state lawmakers expanded the program this year. One of the top concerns for the state agency that runs Medicaid is outreach.
Staff at Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services recently held focus groups on Virginia’s uninsured population. One of the things they learned, says Director of Community Relations Christina Nuckols, is that many people who have applied for Medicaid in the past have been denied.
“And in many cases that was a very painful experience. And so they don’t want to go through that again,” Nuckols said. “Our biggest challenge is to give them a reason to come back and try again.”
DMAS is currently preparing a media blitz for radio, busses, billboards and more. Nuckols says the communication effort won’t rely on political terms like “Medicaid expansion” but instead focus on one simple fact: new health coverage for adults.
“For new people who really have not been keeping up with the news about this we really are starting from the ground up in explaining what’s happening.”
Coverage is on track to begin January first. The agency is hoping that people will be able to apply and be approved before that date.